Gideon Israel
Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center

Is This Mahmoud Abbas?

It would be difficult to find someone who has been involved in the Israel-Palestinian peace process more than Dennis Ross; maybe Aaron Miller.  Both have been so involved that each published a book on this topic.

In an article authored by Dennis Ross, published in Foreign Policy magazine, this is what he had to say about the Palestinian leader:

“Every agreement he makes is limited and contains nothing he regards as irrevocable. He is not, in his eyes, required to surrender any claims. Worse, notwithstanding his commitment to renounce violence, he has never relinquished the terror card. Moreover, he is always quick to exaggerate his achievements, even while maintaining an ongoing sense of grievance…he never prepares his public for compromise. Instead, he leads the Palestinians to believe the peace process will produce everything they ever wanted-and he implicitly suggests a return to armed struggle if negotiations fell short of those unattainable goals… [he] speaks to Palestinian groups about how the struggle, the jihad, will lead them to Jerusalem. Too often his partners in the peace process dismiss this behavior as…being caught up in rhetorical flourishes in front of his “party” faithful.

Is there any sign that [he] has changed and is ready to make historic decisions for peace? I see no indication of it. Even his sudden readiness to seize the mantle of reform is the result of intense pressure from Palestinians and the international community. He is maneuvering now to avoid real reform, not to implement it. And on peace, he does not appear ready to acknowledge the opportunity that existed with Olmert’s plan, nor does he seem willing to confront the myths of the Palestinian movement.”

This was written by Dennis Ross in 2002 about Yaasir Arafat, and the only thing I changed in the quote was substituting ‘Olmert’ in place of ‘Clinton’, and changing the quote from past to present.  But doesn’t this sound like Mahmoud Abbas?  Couldn’t the exact same quote be attributed to Abbas’s characteristics?  And if so, maybe the Israeli government would heed Mr. Peace Process’s advice about who they are dealing with.  Sure, it never hurts to sit down and talk, but as time goes on sitting down and talking is becoming a costly endeavor for the Israeli government.  In the next round of talks Israel will probably have to remove a settlement as a precondition! It goes without saying, that John Kerry should swallow his huge ego, and heed Ross’s advice.

About the Author
Gideon Israel is the Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center which focuses on strengthening US-Israel relations through mutually beneficial policy projects.